This form of massage therapy does absolute wonders for your physical health and mental wellbeing.
What is Shiatsu Massage?
Shiatsu massage dates all the way back to ancient Japan but has become increasingly popular in the Western world more recently.
So what does the term ‘shiatsu’ actually mean?
The translation is ‘finger pressure’ but do not be fooled, it’s not just about applying finger pressure! Your therapist may also introduce their knuckles, elbows, feet and knees as part of the treatment.
It’s the perfect remedy to loosen up your muscles, stimulate circulation of the blood and get your energy flowing.
In fact the idea of energy flow, also known as ‘Ki’ or ‘Qi’ (pronounced ‘chee’) is the main principle of shiatsu.
Practitioners believe any disruption to your energy flow causes illnesses and diseases.
Shiatsu is all about freeing any blockages or imbalances to the Ki flow and rejuvenating the body by restoring energy to where it’s most needed.
The practice involves applying pressure to or stretching any points that lie along the lines of energy, these are referred to as ‘meridian channels’.
How is Shiatsu Different to Other Massage Techniques?
There are five main differences to note compared to other techniques, such as percussion massage:
1.You’ll keep your clothes on unlike other massage styles where you may have to remove your clothes.
Tip: Remember to attend a shiatsu massage therapy session in loose, comfortable clothes.
2.The practitioner will ask you to lay on the floor on a mat as opposed to a table. This is to help them apply pressure and manipulate your body more easily.
3.The focus will be on your joints and connective tissue rather than your muscles.
4.No oils are used, unlike Swedish massage for example where you inhale the aromas and they are absorbed into your skin.
5.You’ll come out feeling energized and rejuvenated, as opposed to relaxed and sleepy.
The closest form of treatment to shiatsu is acupuncture as it draws on traditional Chinese medicine theory and uses meridians and pressure points.
However, unlike acupuncture there are no needles used.
Benefits of Shiatsu Massage
1.IMPROVES YOUR CIRCULATION AND REDUCES CONSTIPATION
Research has shown that there’s nothing like a shiatsu massage to stimulate the whole body’s circulation, including the digestive system.
Laxatives are generally the most common strategy for dealing with constipation.
However they can sometimes have harmful side effects, like increased constipation and fecal impaction (basically a large mass of stool that gets stuck so badly in your colon or rectum that it’s impossible to push out).
Why not try something that research has been proven to have a positive effect on our bowel function?
2.REDUCES STRESS AND TENSION
If you’re gifting a massage to someone feeling stressed and frazzled then shiatsu could work wonders.
The technique has been scientifically proven to promote emotional and physical calm and reduce any tension in the body.
Stress and anxiety go hand-in-hand, when stress is prolonged, anxiety results. Shiatsu can also help here too.
A systematic review looking at the effects of shiatsu and acupressure explained both can decrease anxiety.
Another small study involving 60 burns patients admitted to a hospital in Iran revealed that shiatsu may increase levels of serotonin (a hormone that helps you to feel calmer and more focused).
Not just that but it also increases dopamine (another hormone that makes feel more motivated, accomplished and productive), helping to reduce anxiety.
3.HELP WITH INSOMNIA
Struggling to get a good night’s sleep?
You’re not alone as one in five Americans have some sort of sleep disorder.
If you’re one of them, we’ve got good news:
There is a stack of research that shows shiatsu massage can improve sleep quality.
One study explored the effects of hand self-shiatsu (HSS) for people with chronic pain that negatively impacts on their sleep.
Amazingly doing this type of massage can improve the time it takes for you to fall asleep, as well as sleep duration.
Another piece of research from the University of Alberta revealed young adult athletes recovering from concussion can gain better slumber from HSS.
Want to give it a go yourself?
4.DECREASES DEPRESSIVE SYMPTOMS
The emotional balance a massage provides might be more than you realize.
As the mental health epidemic continues to grow, massage has become an alternative treatment option as it reduces cortisol (the primary stress hormone) and adrenaline, while increasing serotonin and dopamine.
In a pilot study assessing therapies for depression in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, findings suggested that shiatsu massage may play a role in promoting psychological wellbeing.
5.HELPS BRING RELIEF TO ARTHRITIS SUFFERERS
The Arthritis Foundation recommends shiatsu as it restores the healthy flow of energy in the body.
The Touch Research Institute, part of the University of Miami School of Medicine, discovered that a combination of hand massage from a therapist and self-hand massage is effective when it comes to easing pain caused by arthritis.
The study focused on adults who received a massage by a therapist once a week, as well as daily self-hand massages.
Combining the techniques reduced hand pain up to a staggering 57%!